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Hodge Podgery

9 Jul

My synapses have been on overtime lately.  I’m a whirling dervish of energy and excitement.  I’d like to blame it on my giving up gluten and potatoes (I know I know..nothing to live for), but there’s something brewing in the inner regions of my psyche that have been dormant for so long.  Truth is I feel so much more me lately.  I keep thinking I’m as me as I’ll ever be, but then there’s another layer I had forgotten I locked away in a closet.

I did give up gluten, which has meant more time in the kitchen cooking delicious items.  Look at those gluten free pizzas with mushrooms and carmelized onions.  So delicious too.

“I get lost in my mind..lost in my mind….lost…I get lost…loooooooooosssssssssst.”  Pardon me while I sing along to Head and the Heart singing Lost in My Mind.

I’m also addicted to upcycling and repurposing.  My kiddo said this is how all hoarders start out.  She may have a point, except I’m not one for things lying about.  Except as I glance over at my art table it’s covered in paint, sea glass, canvases and my coffee mug with a naked woman with swinging breasts.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a picture.  Genius.

Maybe physically feel better and it’s rewiring my mental.  I haven’t been feeling out of sorts, but lately I feel downright childlike.  I have a wonderment and such an appetite for life.  Maybe I’m replacing my bread and potatoes hunger for another.  A hunger to live as if there is a tomorrow of promise.

Now listen to this song….I think you’ll feel the way I do:

I’d love to feel
Your hand touching mine
And tell me why
I must keep working on

Yes I’d give my life
To lay my head tonight on a bed
Of California stars


Laura’s getting her foodie back – Meal #1

15 Apr

As a vegetarian, I get bored with food.  There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants here in town, but I don’t go to them very often.  I want to expand my horizons, cook more, eat better.  It’s Spring and the perfect time to ramp up with local vegetable fare.  

As with a lot of people, I have a weird relationship with food.  I need it for sustenance, and yet too much of a good tasting thing is bad.  Food is not the enemy.  Complacency is.  It’s easy to sit in a drive thru and order a number on the menu.  You don’t even say the food.  It’s just a number.  

I am determined to get my foodie back.  My desire for better tasting and healthier food.  My love for cooking.  I’m tired of frozen Trader Joe’s meals even though they are decidedly delicious.  So, I’ll probably do this and drop off and then come back to it again.  But I’m really hoping I find that spark again.

So today I decided to make a vegetarian lasagna in my crockpot.  It was easy and I don’t dare try to give you a recipe here. I never follow one anyway.  I just bought organic lasagna noodles, the kind you do not have to boil.  I found my favorite Pomi sauce which is expensive but it’s a delicious and clean alternative to the jarred kind.  

I sauteed some sliced portabella mushrooms, sliced zucchini and baby spinach.

Then I layered everything with mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese.  

I cooked on high for two hours and then turned it down to low for another hour.  I was really surprised how easily and thoroughly it cooked.  The cheese was even brown and bubbly like I like it.

So, it’s not pretty, but it was delicious.  It’s been years since I had a veggie lasagna that wasn’t some frozen diet meal.  It’s not a huge step, but it’s a step nonetheless.  Here’s to making more.




It Arrives

17 Jul

Cancer has always been on the periphery of my family.  My great grandmother died from it, my grandmother Tumor died from, yes, you guessed it, a tumor.  My aunt had colon cancer at thirty five.  It’s always been there lurking.

Now it has invaded my immediate family.  My father recovered from surgery, the tumor was small and supposedly all gone.  It has not invaded the surrounding tissue or lymph nodes.  He’s home from the hospital and resuming life, albeit with the knowledge he had cancer.  It was there and now it’s gone.  Gone.  Stay gone.

I would be remiss as a human being for not wondering when it’s my turn.  When does the Russian roulette of junky genes call my number?  My new attitude has been “if it’s not happening right now, it’s not happening.”  A mantra I’m repeating over and over as I lay in the dark blocking out whatever negative thoughts might try to creep in my conscience.  It’s not happening to me right now, so it’s time to concentrate on my father, on my daughter, on this life I’m navigating.

I keep telling myself I’m different from my family.  I have never smoked, and they all were heavy smokers for at least 20 years or longer.  I’m a vegetarian.  I attempt exercise.  I meditate.  I try to wash whatever bitterness I have on my skin off in the shower.  But it’s still a roulette wheel isn’t it.  If it’s my turn, then it is.

I’m not going to change the life I’m trying to carve out because of fear.  Fear has never been a friend of mine.  It’s led to rash decisions that have reverberated through my life.   I won’t allow fear to dictate my future.  Or cancer.  

I am the captain of my own destiny.  Or something profound like that.


26 Jun

Just as I began my search in earnest for my love of all things food, my father is diagnosed with colon cancer.  It was a devastating blow to all of us.  There is the worry and concern for my father, and then the worry and resentment my mother is in no way able to take care of him.  There was one day of complete worry about the future for him or if there would be one.  Then he saw his surgeon and hope sprang eternal when he was informed he would have a less invasive surgery and basically resume a normal life.

My sister and I sat at the table with our parents, and we both pleaded the case for healthier eating.  My father is the type to eat a dinner, a second helping then a bologna sandwich an hour later.  Their cupboards are stocked with chips, sweet treats and enough carbs to fuel the Boston Marathon.  Their freezer is overflowing with frozen food and ice cream.  My sister and I insisted he needed to change his diet not only for this latest health set back, but also because of his twenty year battle with heart disease.

The first thing my mother did is angrily insist his diet does not need to change.  Our relationship now is cold and distant, there is resentment and anger simmering between us like a volatile moltov cocktail waiting to explode at any moment.  There have been several times I’ve pleaded with my mother to not bring boxes of Ho Ho’s and Twinkies into the house.  She insists my father should have more willpower and be able to not eat the things he shouldn’t.

When I first returned to Kentucky, I began cooking healthy foods for my father.  We attempted a strict heart healthy diet in hopes of helping him lose pounds quickly after yet another heart stint was necessary.  My mother doubled her efforts to bring home his favorite fatty foods and by the time I moved out, the diet was long forgotten and he had returned to enjoying fried foods with mom again.  My mother also refuses to smoke outside despite begin informed by a Cardiologist she should for my father’s health.  

So, I thought about food again but this time as a way to nourish and heal the body.  I’m making double steel cut oatmeal this morning and I wish I could convince my father how it’s not only healthy, but delicious.  I believe the biggest obstacle to my father changing his eating habits, is indeed my mother.  She likes the attention on her and her illnesses.  Yesterday, when we sat at the table, she began crying and everyone there completely ignored her.  Within seconds, her tears were dried and she stomped off to another room.  My father’s health has now become the focus of our attention and she does not like it.

I’m now not thinking about my love of food, but what it does for my body.  When I eat healthy, I feel healthy.  With the gene pool I’ve been cursed with, it’s more important than ever that I am mindful of what I do put in my body.  It’s not enough I’ve given up meat and maintain a vegetarian lifestyle.  I’ve given up coffee and have replaced my tea with decaf.  I’m insisting my daughter make healthier choices.  Who knows maybe by example I can convince my father to replace his ice cream with Greek yogurt.  

Wishful thinking.

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Days 6-8

19 Jun

So Friday was pitch-in today.  An orgy of fried and sweet foods guaranteed to send someone into a coma.  I’ve continued my question for what I really want and had only coffee for breakfast.  The smell of boxes and boxes of donuts was actually nauseating.  I think nibbled on fresh veggies, no dip and tortilla chips with salsa.  I brought a gourmet salsa with mango and pineapple, so I knew I would enjoy it.  For lunch, more veggies, more salsa, guacamole and cheese, lots of it.  Post lunch dessert was a small slice of birthday cake.  By the time I got home, I had no interest in eating again that night, so I stuck with iced tea.

On Saturday, I woke up still feeling more blah than usual.  I drank an almond milk and blueberry smoothie for breakfast and ate rice with veggies for lunch.  Dinner was just as boring, a peanut butter sandwich, but it really was what I wanted.  Sometimes being liberated to eat what you want, you realize there are too many decisions.

Sunday is now our traditional dinner day.  I skipped breakfast (Yes, I know how bad that is!) and we usually make the meal a late lunch/early dinner combo.  I had quinoa pasta with organic vegetable pasta sauce.  I am not in any way inclined to make my own pasta sauce.  I’ve opted to include more quinoa in my meals.  It’s high in protein and not nearly as bad for you as traditional pasta.  I baked off a loaf of Italian bread and had a spinach and strawberry salad without dressing.  

So I’m discovering I have a boring palate right now.  But I am eating what I want.  Maybe what I want needs to be fine tuned.  I am determined to make

it back to the farmer’s market this week and at least try two new veggie recipes.  We’ll see.  It’s going to be a long week.

Happy Eating!

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Day 5

16 Jun

So, the age old answer to what do I really want to eat is bread, brie and that’s pretty much it.  I ate French bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Oh, I did manage some vegetables and a broccoli soup in there.

But the most important thing here, and what I’m striving for, is learning to love food again.  I really, really love French bread apparently.  I’d probably even marry it, but first let’s get to those gays.

I’m too tired to wax poetic about anything but bread.  Tomorrow is pitch in!


How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Day 4

15 Jun

This morning I woke up craving an egg mcmuffin without any meat.  I’m not known for getting these, but for some reason it sounded so good.  Keeping with my vow not to go through drive thrus, I decided to make my own.  So, one fried egg, a mini bagel smeared with butter and half a piece of american cheese, and it was, dare I say, better than anything I could have gotten in the car.  I still have two light cappuccinos in my fridge, so I drank one today.  A delicious hazelnut.  Sometimes I really miss Starbucks.

It was pouring rain today and I was treated to a lightning storm out the window across from my desk.  I stayed in for lunch, having brought mine and ate butternut squash tossed with greens and a salad.  Again though, I cheated and had a Diet Mountain Dew.  I’m blaming my soda consumption on my pure exhaustion.  I haven’t been sleeping that well, woken up by the dog for middle of the night bush waterings and my own tossing and turning.  I think I’ve been going to bed too early, so I’m trying to stay up until Midnight tonight.  There has to be that perfect sleep number somewhere.

The farmer’s market was closed on my way home, so I went to the local grocery and settled on a loaf of French bread, with inferior brie and one of those steam in the bags of baby vegetables.  Okay, so this isn’t very impressive and definitely not exactly what I had in mind.  I have to find triple cream brie somewhere.  The nearest gourmet food store is 40 minutes away, so I need to take a field trip this weekend.

Gearing up for Friday’s pitch-in.  It’s a potluck at work where everyone brings a dish or two.  I’m bringing a vegetable tray and salsa dip.  The last two times I’ve made this intensely rich and decadent banana pudding.  It just didn’t appeal to me this time.

So I need to widen my shopping range, really ask myself what I want and definitely go to Qdoba sometime this week.  The mango salad looks delicious and now I want one.  I also have to make it to the Mayan cafe and for freak’s sake, I’ve got to take more pictures.

Until tomorrow…have fun eating.



How Laura Got Her Foodie Back – Day 3

14 Jun

So this morning I woke up exhausted.  The dog had to go out three times last night and my kid was way too chipper this morning.  I ate an egg with hash browns, which was actually pretty delicious and about all I really wanted.  I didn’t bother with coffee, so I drank water instead.  I packed a lunch, I thought pretty delicious looking, but once I arrived at work it was announced we were getting pizza for lunch.

Here’s the thing.  I am literally the only vegetarian where I work.  It is constantly pointed out and talked about because we get lunches a lot.  Everyone usually invokes me as the deciding factor whether or not there is something I can eat.  People act like it’s the dark ages and NOT ONE RESTAURANT serves a salad without some kind of meat in it.  I’m finding my food is more interesting to everyone else than it is me.  So today was pizza day and they got me a small vegetarian one loaded with olives.  

I love pizza.  Really do.  But I am way over cheese pizza.  I make it once a week for my kid, who scrapes off the cheese.  So, I pay for her to eat bread with sauce on it.  I personally think the cheese is the most important part, but that’s just me.  So it was nice having a hand tossed crust loaded with mushrooms and peppers and a generous abundance of olives.  Black and green olives, mind you.  So delicious.  This part is strictly for my beloved D – yes, I cheated and had a Diet Coke, but I’m only human!

Dinner time I found myself not that hungry.  I found these asian veggie burgers  and made one.  It was pretty good for a burger of that sort.  I know a lot of  vegetarians like tofu, but due to my thyroid, or lack thereof, I can’t really eat a lot of soy.  But soy is literally in everything we eat, sort of like corn.  For a side I had a big salad with feta and sunflower seeds.  I’m actually finding I prefer them to croutons.  

I did find something today though.  A perfectly salted caramel, so delicious and soft.  Nothing like the kind that sticks to your teeth.  I was going to take a picture of it, but I ate it instead.  It was EXACTLY what I had imagined in my mind when I wanted one.  So tomorrow, I’ll ask myself.  What do you really want?  Maybe I’ll be surprised.

How Laura Got Her Foodie Back- Day Two

13 Jun

So I woke up feeling fruity so I made a smoothie with almond mild (so yummy) and frozen strawberries and mango.  This time I didn’t include my usual two packets of Splenda.  I had my usual coffee sans cream.  For lunch, I had a salad with sunflower seeds and feta cheese.  Dinner was leftover butternut squash and greens.

Let’s be honest.  Nothing exciting about today’s food.  But the smoothie was delicious and the salad was filling.  Dinner was more of a throw together because I was exhausted by the time I got home.  I really wanted a piece of caramel, but of course I want a piece of salted  caramel, so decadent and delicious a Werther’s will not do.

I’m feuding with my parents again.  It’s a culmination of all these years with a dash of how they treat my daughter sprinkled on top.  But exploring food, brings me home again.  It was always food that brought us together as a family, that was a catalyst for a visit or celebration.  It was food my mother taught me was a balm for the blues.   Having traveled and explored, I learned to differentiate between good food and mediocre.  There really is no going back.  Not with food, not with my family.

So I’ll look for that salted caramel this week and try to be a little more adventurous.


How Laura got her foodie back – Day 1

12 Jun

This morning I asked myself what I really wanted for breakfast.  Instead of a cereal, I made hash browns with red pepper flakes, lots  of pepper and one perfect over easy egg.  Then I chopped it all up and ate slowly while I enjoyed an orange flavored  coffee.  It’s easy to cook on the weekends, but much harder during the week when I’m rushing out the door.

For lunch, I made a proper English cucumber sandwich with the crusts cut off fluffy white bread. I smeared the bread with horseradish sauce then layered on fresh cucumber.  A side of salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to dress it.  I sprinkled on feta cheese and sunflower seeds and it was delicious.  I then ate a bowl of fresh cut cantaloupe.  It was delicious and I was reminded I have not had it in a long time.  I remember reading somewhere you should only eat fruit before lunch and I’m wondering how true that statement is.

Dinner was our now traditional Sunday dinner.  I made a butternut squash and collard green stir fry and fresh ears of corn.  For dessert we sat outside in the heat and ate dripping organic blueberry popsicles.    

It’s easier to eat like this on the weekend.  I wonder how I’m going to fare during the week.